Well, 2022 didn’t start out the way I had planned.
My grand plan for the year was to run the Eugene Marathon, get a marathon starting point, and then train for sub-2:37 for the fall.
The official "start" of marathon training - 3 months from race day!
Shortly after Christmas my entire family got a bad stomach bug. Obviously one week, 4 months from a race, means absolutely nothing.
Gizmo keeping me company while I felt like garbage
At the end of January, Becki and I hosted BAnna Camp. We intentionally plan for this week to be a huge down week because we learned the hard way in 2019 that training hard and planning an all-inclusive camp is, uh, not easy. One planned down week 3 months out from a race means absolutely nothing.
Camp was everything I wanted it to be and more
In February, I tested positive for COVID. I’m not going to lie, this devastated me. While I was in Texas, Dave developed COVID symptoms on the last day of camp (Sunday). I came home on a Tuesday. He tested negative that night but had a sore throat, cough, and congestion. He assumed he had a sinus infection. He went to a doctor on Thursday, who didn’t test him, and diagnosed him with a sinus infection. Friday night I developed his same symptoms, which I thought was weird since sinus infections aren’t contagious. Saturday I took a test to be safe, and was negative. Overnight on Saturday, my resting heart rate jumped up to 66, and my heartrate was 105 while I was making coffee. We took another round of tests and were both positive. While I feel EXTREMELY fortunate that not a single person from camp reported COVID symptoms, it devastated me that I got it from my own home. I also had a lot of resentment toward Dave (which I recognize isn’t exactly rational).
I took a week completely off and came back VERY slowly, and talked with Coach Dean. At that point I had 11 weeks to go until Eugene. While the previous months hadn’t been ideal, I still had plenty of time to get things rolling.
Tracking disease progression with my FitBit was kind of fascinating
At the end of February, Dave and I went to New Orleans, a trip we had planned back in November. Another intentional down week (which wound up not being a down week at all, because the planned down week happened to fit perfectly with where I was in my COVID comeback). That week we did a great 10 mile long run and I had an awesome fartlek along their riverfront path. I was feeling really good about where my fitness was. (Also, NOLA was just incredible and rejuvenating).
View of downtown from a Riverboat dinner cruise
We came home very early Thursday morning (around 2 AM). I took Thursday to recover and then my plan was to really ~cRaCk DoWn~ on the whole training thing. I felt really good about where I was post-COVID and what I could accomplish over the course of the next 10 weeks.
Then, 36 hours after I had gotten back from New Orleans, I was quickly packing a bag and heading to Michigan City. My mom and sister took my dad to the ER at Northwestern in Chicago to be seen for some breathing issues. They were going on 5 hours waiting in the ER and I was worried about their 14.5 year old dog being home alone, so I drove up with 3 days worth of clothes (“just in case”). What we thought would be a systems check with a referral to a cardiologist instead turned into my dad being hospitalized for 8 nights with COVID – my literal nightmare for the past 2 years. I spent 10 days in Michigan City with my mom, where we basically set up a makeshift Situation Room, going hour by hour calling nurses and doctors around the clock, hopping on trains with 30 minutes notice to take supplies in Chicago, and me getting hardly any sleep.
In the beginning of the week, I decided I would do as many little things as I could to maintain fitness. Science has shown that even a minimal amount of running can maintain fitness. You might not gain anything, but you aren’t going to lose it either. Under the street light of my childhood home I did drills and strides every night. I would wait to run until we heard from all of the doctors for the day. Neighbors stopped to ask if everything was okay with my parents since I had been home for so long. As the days wore on, 4 mile runs + drills + strides + core became 10 minute runs, because that was all I had the time or energy for.
On the 10th day, after my dad was released from the hospital (somehow looking no worse for the wear), I realized I had been away for TEN days. It really didn’t feel like it. I also came to terms with the fact that 1 week + 1 week + 1 week + 1 week + 10 days in 2.5 months was going to affect my marathon. I knew there was no way I was going to come back from that week and jump right back into training. I know enough as a coach and an athlete to know that trying to train for a marathon after stomach bug --> BAnna Camp --> COVID --> vacation --> elderly parent with multiple underlying conditions being hospitalized for COVID is asking for injury, illness, or total burnout.
who comes back from 8 nights in the hospital looking that good?
I pride myself in being really good at listening to my body. My resting heartrate got higher from stress during those 10 days than it was on the worst day of my own COVID infection. My sleep was terrible. My heartrate variability tanked. I had zero desire to run after I got home. I WANTED to want to run, but it just wasn’t there.
So, I’ve been reflecting a lot. What do I do now? There’s too much time to start training for a Fall marathon. There’s not enough time (or honestly, mental energy) for me to train for a late spring/early summer full or half. In reflecting on what I need right now, it’s momentum and some confidence.
Which got me thinking: what’s my lowest-hanging fruit of a PR? Definitely my 5K PR (16:58). I want to start racing more, too. That’s difficult with longer races because you can’t exactly do a half marathon every week. So, here’s my new plan for the Spring:
Run a 5K every 4 weeks, starting with Carmel in April, until the JMF 5K on July 16th which will be a PR attempt. I haven’t trained for a 5K in a long time. In fact, when I ran my 5K PR that was actually en route to a 15K PR. Racing a 5K every 4 weeks will help me see growth and momentum, and I am extremely confident I can run a PR with consistent training. I’m sure the first one will be ugly, but that will just make it easier (and more gratifying) to see growth. Plus, getting myself in 5K shape will be a great springboard for whatever I decide to do in the Fall. Building short speed is a great way to build speed for longer distances, especially when you’re like me and favor endurance.
I like to think that when things start rough, they end well. Maybe 2022 will be in like a lion, out like a lamb? I’d totally be okay with no more plot twists, though, for a while… (although I appreciate my ability to pivot!)